Eclipse 25

He also spoke neither Modern English nor Ancient English.  His ‘Standard Edited English’ was close to real English, but he would say ‘perhaps’ not ‘mayhaps’, ‘Ayup’ not ‘OK’, and would split infinitives as the correct way to talk.  More peculiarly, part of his mind was not there.  He would talk about how his country was governed, and every so often his thoughts would vanish.  Moments later he would be talking again, but there would be mysterious gaps in his logic, as though he could think and say things, but no one else could be aware of them.  He was under very close observation when he suddenly disappeared, every atom in his body vanishing at the same moment. 

I needed more food, but the healing matrix said first I needed some rigorous stretch and bend exercises, my partly-healed ribs protesting where force fields kept them clamped absolutely rigidly together.  Then I got to eat.  Cooking is a big time sink, there being only one of me, but I actually can cook, so some of my lentil, spinach, and kielbasa stew moved from freezer to microwave, followed by shredded lettuce, slivered carrots, and a few artichokes onto a big salad plate.  Lemon juice, a scoop of chickpeas and chopped onions marinated in Roman salad dressing, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese followed.  After dinner I’d take a short nap, and then chemistry and astronomy.  I’d cleaned the house thoroughly before I left.  It could wait a few more days. 

OK, be honest with myself.  The short nap was another nine hours.  I lay down on my bed, pulled the quilt up to my shoulders, and when I awoke it was well closer to dawn than dusk.  Yes, when I need to I can really draw deeply on my gifts.  Afterward I pay a price, and not a small one, either.  Mayhaps someday, when I grow up, the price will be smaller.  But right now I’m only me, I only have the gifts that I have, and I’m paying the price for drawing deeply on them.  On the positive side, I always liked getting up early enough to watch the sun rise.  After nine hours of deep sleep, I really was awake again.  I’d be happy to say the stretches and bends weren’t as uncomfortable as yesterday, except they were worse. 

Chapter Four

The Wells Residence

Arbalest Street

Medford, Massachusetts

Evening

For the Wells family, dinner approached completion.  Wind from the blizzard rattled tree branches and whistled through their house’s ornate eves.  All the blinds in the breakfast room were pulled, covering three walls of glass with bright-white honeycomb fabric.  A brass and crystal chandelier hanging from the high ceiling gave brilliant light.  The fourth wall opened onto a large, modern kitchen filled with cooking gadgets: bread maker, ice cream maker, coffee grinder, six burner gas stove,…only the classic nickel-plated drip coffee pot referred to an earlier century. 

 “That was really good Indian pudding, mom,” Janie Wells said, pushing pitch-black falls of hair back from her ears.  Thanking Mom was always safe, she thought, so long as you gave brother Brian credit for whatever he cooked.  His cooking was superb, as good as Mom’s.  Janie’s much-taller year-older sister Jessamine Trishaset nodded enthusiastic agreement, her curly red hair bobbing as she nodded. 

“Thank you,” Abigail Wells said.  Three children had left her with a slightly stocky build.  Her still-raspberry-blonde hair was tied into a bob. “My recipe, but Brian did all the work.  And grades?  It being that day for you seventh and eighth-graders?”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eclipse 24

Finally I curled up with a book, a very thick history of the Grand Tradesmasters of All Sarnath, many of whom were real characters, to put it mildly.  Stanford Smith was by far the most pleasant and sensible of the lot.  He had made a vast number of westerns, films whose location is in dispute between Utah and Mongolia, and the esoteric, substantially incomprehensible motion picture Casablanca, which is still said to be one of the greatest films made in the last several thousand years.  The history listed some of the books that attempt to interpret a scene at the end of the film, in which the Inspector throws a bottle of water into a trash can.  The scene is so brilliant that no one can understand it.  Smith was the sort of person you would like as an older friend, if he hadn’t died a couple thousand years ago. 

All good books come to an end.  Live Forever and Own All the Money was no exception.  I looked up.  It was well after dark outside.  OK, it’s January.  Dark happens early.  My mocha pot was empty.  I’d really gotten lost in the book, especially toward the end when Grand Tradesmasters were alcoholics, child molesters, lunatics, and monetary reformers, concentrating hard enough that I didn’t think about my pain.  I still hurt, a lot.  At the end, I’d had to take getting gut-punched.  Hard.  Things were still uncomfortable down there.  Before I started reading I’d remembered to pull up a quilt, so I hadn’t gotten cold.  My gifts will protect me from cold, but only when I’m calling them. 

A shame so many Tradesmasters were lunatics.  For a few moments my memories carried me back to a book I’d read last year, a book on another lunatic, the not-American Ambassador.  One fine day, there had appeared in Vienna a man claiming to be the American Ambassador, which he was not.  He had an impressive set of papers saying he was the Ambassador not for the American Republic but for a “United States of America”, a country founded in 1776, not 0017, and not to the Empire of the Hapsburgs but to a “Republic of Austria”.  The parallel universe crackpots had a field day.  Telepathic examination, as a start to curing his delusions, found that he had a full set of wrong memories going back to being a little boy, all memories of a world that does not exist.  Particularly alarming were his very detailed memories of ‘the first flight to the moon’, a flight allegedly carried out within the last few decades using, Goddess spare us, a chemical-fueled rocket.  The alarm was that he remembered lots of details of the rocket—it had been a boyhood fixation—and careful engineering analysis of this complete bit of absurdity showed that the rocket would have worked, if it hadn’t blown up first.  He refused to believe in personas or gifts, even when someone hovered in front of him.  He claimed that his “United States” was part of the world’s first technical civilization, that there are no ancient steel and concrete ruins, that writing is not older than homo sapiens, and that Massachusetts had been settled from of all places Britain, in 1600, that being only 20 centuries too late and from the wrong direction.  In short, he was stark raving mad. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eclipse 23

Holmgren introduced his number-two man, the head of the League Peace Police.  Mum had said this Dreikirch fellow was a Nationalist-Capitalist, someone barely fit to live.  His rant was even worse than Holmgren’s.  Today the League would have an emergency meeting to talk about me.  I could tell.  I wasn’t going to get their cheers and congratulations for solving the Maze. 

I changed channels to the Persona News Network—All Personas, All the Time.  My satellite feed went into a distributor box.  From the outside, the mythical people who live here were perpetually viewing a dozen channels, giving outsiders no chance to see which channels I actually watch.  The Persona Network was discussing various plans to capture me, once I was found.  I’d’ve been happier if they didn’t have a half-way accurate estimate of how much power I’d used to make my last getaway.  They kept talking about the network’s big program, this evening, all about ways to kill Eclipse and capture the Namestone, at which moment the Earth would become Paradise.  I set the video’s recorder to be sure to capture that program.  I am not much interested in people saying how great I am.  I am extremely interested in people who think they have newer and better ways to kill me. 

I cleaned up after breakfast, and decided that it was time for another nap.  I was alert, but physically exhausted.  When I woke the sun was beyond the zenith, I felt much better, and I really wanted something to eat again. 

Two roast chicken sandwiches, all grain bread, plenty of lettuce, just a bit of butter, and more of the curried vegetables did quite nicely.  I postponed the ice cream and fudge crumbles until later.  Water came to a boil while I was cleaning up.  Some parents would have been scandalized that I was brewing coffee, worse, cocoa-tinged coffee.  I really am a persona, not easily poisoned.  Coffee makes me a bit sharper while I am reading, but all the alkaloids burn off fairly quickly, leaving me ready to drop into sound sleep.  Besides, I really am too young for chocolate to have its alleged effect.  I suppose if I always ate like this I would worry a bit about my figure, but that is one of my gifts.  I may eat, but I remain leanly athletic. 

After lunch it was clearly time for my next book.  I could start studying again.  I decided to read a history.  For some reason, Mum did not entirely approve my reading historicals.  I agree that most books on history are pretty pointless.  Here are these great men and women and their heroic deeds that you can copy.  Here is a record of past ages and their mistakes, leading upward to the present when we do everything right.  If you don’t like moral histories, there are historical mysteries.  Historical mystery books tend to be completely crazy.  Yes, it is hard to understand how the eight different civilizations of ancient Washington, 2000 years ago, could clearly have coexisted along the Columbia River, had advanced science, technology, mathematics, and art, yet failed to notice each other.  Even if they weren’t all there at exactly the same time, whichever came later might in their historic records occasionally have noted ruins of the past.  No such luck.  Massachusetts is even more confusing.  There are 12 or 15, I tend to forget, different ancient advanced civilizations whose traces may be found near Massachusetts Bay.  Most of them left at least some reasonably detailed historical records.  Seven left observations on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and Uranus, observations that make no sense.  They had the moons in wrong places.  You’d think they couldn’t see the sky.  There was a mystery here, one in which most people seem to be remarkably uninterested.  The few people who are interested in ancient civilizations write totally crazy things.  They talk about world civilizations of 50,000 years ago, before Homo sapiens evolved, with a remarkable collection of nonsense as allegedly serious evidence. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eclipse 22

The orange juice was beautifully sweet.  Butter and currant jam did fine on the toasted soda bread.  I remembered to pace myself on eating.  As the pangs of hunger faded, I started considering my to-do list for the next week. “Heal” was at the top of the list. “Dye hair” might need to wait until tomorrow.  Eyelashes are a nuisance.  The Namestone was safe in its jar.  I wasn’t going near it until I was completely recovered.  Until then it lurked behind a quarter-inch of impervium.  People looking for signs of my using it would be sorely disappointed.  Or mayhaps they’d find signs, even though the signs didn’t exist.  My new bookcases were ready for mounting.  I’d finished painting them before I left.  Eventually I would have to do barn work, a real nuisance while one-armed.  Not today.  The healing matrix was emphatic on that.

 My ponies had to wait on being ridden.  Tomorrow I would curry-comb them and check their hooves.  We have soft soil, and I do not ride on roads.  Not having to worry about horseshoes greatly simplifies my life.  The ponies still want to feel appreciated.  A few apples and some maple sugar would help.  I’d like to ride, but my ribs need to recover first.  The barn cats had their automatic feeder, and good shelter for their nest.  I should pop the cat door behind the kitchen open.  Occasionally the cats do like to visit.  They do not get to walk on my back while I’m sleeping, not until I’m way better.  There was still reading to do, and lessons to finish.  I can’t say I’m behind, relative to my grade level, not hardly, and I am tougher on myself than Mum was.  I still have lots of reading I could do. 

Now the League of Nations Supreme Chancellor was on the video.  He threw three kinds of fit.  He was outraged.  I didn’t do what he said I should.  There was now a price on my head, with contributions from some of the Great Powers.  I listened carefully to that one.  Austria-Hungary was prominent for its complete absence from the list of contributors.  So were the Satsuma Daimyo and the American Republic. 

League artists had created drawings and paintings of me.  The video signals from Atlantis actually showed me as a blur.  People saw sharp images of me because the Namestone created illusions of what I look like, illusions seen on every video screen in the world.  The news showed the drawings.  They made my hair gold-blonde.  I’m square-jawed, not pointy-tulip jawed.  The garb looked impractical.  It was way too tight to let you move easily.  Lots of girls, ten years older than I am, would happily kill to have the silhouettes in the drawings.  I’m much happier to be me.  How did the artists go that far wrong? Possibly Namestone showed them someone who was not me.  That would explain why Valkyria was so confused.  She was looking for a hot babe, minimally dressed, in her mid-20s.  She found me instead.  Not hot.  Not babe.  Not vaguely mid-20s.  Perfectly decently dressed. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eclipse 21

Meanwhile, my kitchen waited.  Water started heating for tea.  Pear and raisin compote went into the microwave.  Milk and orange juice went to the table.  A steak went onto the electric grill, to be followed in due time by two slices of soda bread.  The slow part of this was the steak — I like mine close to well-done.  That’s why it’s called well-done, after all, because it has been done well rather than so poorly it is still bleeding.  The breakfast room has a small video; I cued up Eagle News-News for Adults.  They are sometimes a bit heavy on financial coverage, but focus on real news, not celebrity scandals.  I was shocked, truly shocked to find they were talking about the Namestone and the mystery persona who walked off with it.  There was great enthusiasm for the earthly wonders that would soon be bestowed upon the people of the world by the bearer. A brief excursion covered other news notes.  Alliances between the thirteen Great Powers drift slowly in time.  After the 1908 Summer War, no one wants another World War.  National persona teams are rough on small, breakable objects, like forests and cities.  Even the Prussian Kaiser builds museums on the horrors of war. 

The South American strangeness received extended coverage. “Invisible sky octopus” made no sense, but — and my attention was drawn sharply toward the video.  Supposedly an Argentine village of 500 people had been destroyed overnight.  There were almost no survivors.  Kudos, however, to the little boy who grabbed his family’s camera, pointed it up as he ran, and snapped image after image.  Most of his family was safe,  He had taken really strange pictures.  A creature, a cross between a jellyfish and a squid, floating in the sky.  Tentacles.  Claws.  Teeth.  But the tentacles and claws and teeth weren’t attached to each other, and moved in wrong ways.  A pair of images clicked in my memories.  Those weren’t pictures of a standard quadridimensional object, but it was something like that.  Someone might be able to figure out the shape.  I leave that to folks who have copies of all the picture files, lots of computer support, and some smart math people.  I like math, but unscrambling those pictures is way above what I know how to do.  Yet. 

The smell from the electric grill reminded me that I do know how to cook, and my steak was approaching ready.  Setting the table left-handed was inconvenient, but my right arm was staying below shoulder-level for the next few days.  Hot water went into the tea pot.  This was surely an Earl Gray morning.  One thing I did not feel was sleepy.  After all, I’d been asleep almost continuously for a couple of days. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eclipse 20

My bedroom’s full-length mirrors, complete with all-angle view so I could check the fall of my cape,  confirmed that my cuts and abrasions were gone, gone as though they had never been.  The Namestone had cleared up my face for the video, but the rest of me was healing more naturally.  The mirrors also showed I was looking a bit thinner than I usually do.  I am girlishly slim.  I weigh more than people think…muscle does that…but I don’t have that many pounds that I can afford to lose.  Getting rid of possible scars thanks to high-grade healing is still good.  Yes, there are guys who think a few strategically placed scars make them attractive to women.  I am not a guy, thank you.  And I am very much not convinced that scars, not to mention irregular shaving and under-bathing, make guys attractive. 

I dutifully spent fifteen minutes doing stretches and bends under the healing matrix’s guidance.  The deep bruises would take a while to heal.  Exercise, however painful, speeds the process.  I had my mind control ramped well up so I did not exactly feel the pain, but there was surely a lot of it.  At the end, I very much enjoyed a long, hot shower. 

The time to start wearing my boy clothing had arrived.  Most people see what they expect to see.  I dressed as a boy, in boys’ cotton corduroys, properly lined and not at all tight, not girls’ somewhat tighter blue jeans.  Actually, I like the boys’ long-sleeve loose hunting shirts.  They are heavy, soft-cotton jacquard weaves, warm, all with pretty polychrome patterns.  They have nice big pockets, not to mention elbow patches.  Moose-skin slippers.  Hair combed with a part.  Cue the slight crackle in my voice.  Anyone who met me would see and hear a boy.  I may not be able to do that in three years, but I can do it now. 

Soon I would have to start dyeing my hair again.  By now there were probably ten million personas, not to mention most of the world’s billion people, all looking for me.  Almost none of them qualified as threats, but I want peace and quiet, not a shootout every time I stop at a grocery store.  Disguise is how I make that happen.  Notwithstanding Twain’s famous story, almost no one will look at a girl and think ‘this could be a boy in disguise’, let alone the other way around.  And when I dress to go shopping, no one will look at the dowdy old woman in heavy coat, three pounds of pearl necklaces, pale blue hair, and a heavy veil from her fifty-years-since-stylish hat, and think they are looking at me.  This morning I could go outside wearing a woven cap. No one would be around to recognize my hair color. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eclipse 19

“Team! The Namestone is indestructible! Kill her!” Valkyria drew her explosive throwing katana.  That weapon, Kang thought, packs the power of a star-core bomb, liquid-density plasma at 20 million degrees, albeit plasma that disappears after spreading a few yards.  Valkyria threw the katana at Eclipse.  The Screaming Skull gestured.  Black hail fell around the Namestone-Bearer.  Flashes of unbearably bright light marked the rest of the League Elite Team launching their attacks.  Something, Kang decided, was protecting Durand and the island, both of which would otherwise have been obliterated by the energies being unleashed.  The camera’s electronic filters were shielding it from burnout, but made it impossible for Kang to identify the attacks being used. 

Eclipse simple stood there, her shields unwavering under attack after attack.  Finally the throwing katana struck.  Eclipse was swallowed in an impossibly bright sphere of incandescent plasma. 

The sphere vanished.  Eclipse was still there.  So was the Namestone.  She flicked her wrist.  The Namestone vanished.  Eclipse stepped into a royal blue waterfall, unseen bells tolling, leaving behind a vacant flight of marble stairs.  Teleport, Kang thought, the waterfall and bells are the signifiers of her teleport.  And someplace in Europe, a team of teleport blockers are somewhere between having splitting headaches and becoming rapidly-expanding clouds of incandescent gas. 

Kang pondered what he had just seen.  He had never heard of this Eclipse person, which was at least unusual, given her power.  She’d done the unbelievable, walking the Maze and taking the Namestone.  The League of Nations Strike Team was perhaps the most powerful group of mortal personas in the world.  Valkyria’s throwing sword created the temperature found at the core of the sun.  The Screaming Skull was a Lord of Eternity, a group of immortals whose powers almost defied human comprehension.  They had all attacked, and this Eclipse person’s shields had not fallen to pieces.  Then she teleported from the battlefield, presumably by breaking the grip of the League’s teleport blockers.  Efficient shields demanded much less power than most personas would believe possible, but the defenses Eclipse had deployed against the Europeans and the Screaming Skull were still remarkable.

Chapter Three

The Invisible Fortress

Morning

 The Healing Matrix had promised: I would wake before sunrise.  Indeed, here it was, not yet seven in the morning, the sky still dark, the first hint of dawn’s early light mayhaps visible in the east, and I was awake.  I still hurt a lot.  I was also ravenously hungry.  The Healing Matrix had done more in two days than normal healing would do in two weeks, but it demanded calories.  You can call on gifts instead of eating, if you have the right gifts, but that’s not a good idea for a girl my age.  Not eating is an especially bad idea if you are doing high-intensity healing, which I am.  You really want solid food to replace all the chemical bits and pieces you are consuming.  Mum was emphatic about that, not that I wouldn’t want her cooking.  Now I have to put up with mine. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eclipse 18

It was a safe bet that the League teleport block team was parked someplace safe in Europe.  They would be targeting Eclipse through Valkyria’s eyes.  The area they could cover from a distance was small, but that should be perfectly adequate for this situation.  They had the limit, Kang considered, that the strength of a teleport block team was the strength of its strongest member.  If the strongest member failed, the next strongest member would still be blocking.  A team of weak blockers could still wear out a strong teleporter by a process of exhaustion.  That was one of Kang’s standard classroom demonstrations.  The Strike Force began to fan out, left and right, moving toward Eclipse. 

“That’s far enough,” Eclipse announced.  The Strike Force kept advancing. 

Eclipse gestured, ending with one hand facing skyward.  The Namestone appeared, its cerulean fire burning a few inches above her palm.  The Namestone’s eldritch tune was faintly audible.  Eclipse brought up her own body aura, a color not different from the Namestone’s, and what sounded to be her own theme music, a mixture of brass and sweet woodwinds clearly audible in Durand’s microphone. 

“Behold the Holy Namestone.  Come no closer, or face my gifts.” Someone, Kang thought, had given Eclipse superb training in rhetoric. “The Namestone is mine.  I took it.  I keep it,” she said. 

“You defy the League!  International law specifies: The League of Nations owns the Namestone.  Hand it over!” Valkyria screamed. 

“You know the Maze Rule: Namestone belongs to he who takes it.  I took it,” Eclipse answered calmly. 

 “No, it belongs to the League!” Valkyria shouted. 

“You keep repeating that same wrong statement.  I just told you: I took it.  It’s mine! Are you deaf, or just stupid? Or maybe both; you’re for sure stupid.” Eclipse’s response dripped with contempt. 

“The Namestone is too dangerous for mortals,” the Screaming Skull announced. “Eclipse!  Give me the Namestone, or face my wrath.”

“And you’re supposed to be an improvement, fathead?” Eclipse asked.  Kang’s eyebrows rose.  Few indeed were the people who would gratuitously insult a Lord of Eternity, no matter that the Screaming Skull was widely known to be one of the dimmest bulbs among the Lords.  “Team! The Namestone is indestructible! Kill her!” Valkyria drew her explosive throwing katana. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Eclipse 17

“Miss Eclipse,” Durand started, “what are your plans for…”

“Be still, Durand.  There is important business.” The Screaming Skull’s voice was as chill as a tomb.  His face was as impassive as the stone wall behind him.  Durand found herself frozen in place, unable to move or speak. 

“Where is she, little girl?” Valkyria snapped. “Where is the bearer of the Holy Namestone?”  Kang stared sharply at the video.  How was it that Valkyria didn’t know Eclipse’s name?  For that matter, how was it that Valkyria couldn’t recognize the bearer? And why was Valkyria saying ‘little girl’?

“I’m about twenty feet in front of you,” Eclipse answered calmly. 

“Aren’t you … isn’t the real Bearer a bit taller?” Valkyria asked.  Kang felt increasing confusion.  The bearer appeared to be Valkyria’s height, that being close to six feet. 

“I am tall.  Wait! Isn’t the real Valkyria a bit less … pudgy?”  Eclipse responded.  Valkyria’s nostrils flared.  There was nothing, Kang thought, like a friendly, considerate opening to potentially delicate negotiations. “I mean, how do you keep fitting into that armor?”

“You!”  Valkyria shouted. “Inform the Bearer.  She is to turn the Holy Namestone over to League of Nations Supreme Chancellor Lars Holmgren.  Immediately! That is a direct order!”

“I am the Bearer.  If you wanted the Namestone, you should have walked the Maze before I did, and taken it,” Eclipse answered. 

“Give it to me! Now! The League has decreed: The Namestone is the property of the world,” Valkyria screamed. 

“Give it to you? You and which army?” Eclipse said indifferently. 

“This one.” Valkyria waved her fingers.  Most of the League of Nations Elite Strike Force appeared at her back.  Kang recognized a fair number of them as former special-class students.  Disruptra and Madmind wore the same orange and violet garb, colors reversed from one set of garb to the other, the first shredding mentalic screens and the second attacking with insane nightmares.  Plasmona, Electra, Lord Roentgen, Eks, and Enn had, respectively, a plasma torch, lightning bolts, coherent X-ray blasts, quark beams, and high-energy neutrons as attacks, all in power ranges that would swiftly turn a city to a pillar of fire.  The folks in League paisley with copper-green trim were mentalists; he didn’t know any of them.  Europalord and his team of drains wore identical green uniforms with sigil and trim of yellow, 12-armed sun crosses. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eclipse 16

Cheers from the restaurant audience were deafening.  Even the oldest patrons would not have watched Jackie Fisher and the combined Grand Fleets being sunk, the last time a serious effort had been made to recover the stone, but most had seen that defeat from period motion pictures.  The chess player who fifty years ago had won three games, then quit while ahead three to zero, was viewed as exhibiting another of his fabled eccentricities.  For this day, mankind had waited thousands of years. 

Beyond the Sarcophagus were stairs leading up.  Eclipse began a slow climb out of the Maze. 

The sky outside the restaurant burst into bright daylight.  Video split screens showed the same all around the world.  From a total planetary eclipse, now there was total planetary daylight. 

“This is Vera Durand on Atlantis.” Durand spoke without hesitation. “It’s suddenly full daylight again.  It’s bright, the sky is blue from horizon to horizon, but there is no sun in the sky.  I’m standing on a ledge close to the Grand Exit, waiting for Eclipse to appear.  I’ll do my best to get an interview.”

A slight popping noise came in the distance.  Twenty feet in front of the stairs, a tall, blonde woman wearing plate mail and holding a flaming sword now stood. “Richard,” Durand said, “that’s unmistakably Valkyria, lead persona of the League of Nations Peace Enforcers.  I must be surrounded by her invisible teammates.  Valkyria? Would you care to tell the audience how you feel at this historic moment?”

Valkyria ignored Durand.  Her eyes remained fixed on the stairs, where Eclipse was about to appear.  Kang wondered what Valkyria was thinking, but her helmet hid her face.  There came the faintest sound of tearing cloth.  Standing twenty feet to the side of the stairs was a short, solidly-built man dressed entirely in black: Black boots, black trousers and belt, black shirt and vest, and broad-brimmed, floppy, solid-black straw hat.  His face was locked in a deep frown. 

“Now a Lord of Eternity is here.  That’s the Screaming Skull himself,” Vera said, not that any of her viewers did not already know. 

A figure came up the stairs from the Tomb.  Her hair was as golden as Valkyria’s.  From the new camera angle, there could be absolutely no doubt that the figure was a tall young woman.  The Namestone was not to be seen.  Kang felt momentarily puzzled.  Was this the person he had watched enter the Maze? The body builds were discordant.  Momentary surprise crossed Valkyria’s face. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment